This October at The Fintech Times is all about the incredible women working in the fintech industry. With women still forming only around 30 per cent of the workforce, it’s important to spotlight those who are working to make a change and blazing a path for those to follow.
Here, we speak to Nikhita Hyett, Juhie Kapoor, Meeri Savolainen, Laura Rofe and Bronwyn Boyle as they share their career journeys and whether they expected to end up in fintech.
Nikhita Hyett, managing director – Europe, at BlueSnap
“In truth, working in fintech wasn’t in my sights when I began my professional career. For 10 years prior to joining this industry, I was a newspaper and magazine journalist travelling the world and covering everything from interviews with former President Barack Obama and Simon Cowell (not together!) to numerous Strictly Come Dancing grand finales, to the shocking Mumbai terror attack of 2008. However, after having my first child in 2012 and going back to the magazine I was then working on, I realised that writing was no longer my passion.
“My husband works in fintech, and I saw how the sector was booming. There was so much innovation, opportunity and investment happening. The first company I worked for, Global Blue, took a gamble hiring a showbiz hack to manage some of their most important accounts. But I like to think it was a gamble that paid off for them. The skills I learnt working for newspapers and magazines are transferable, and have given me the confidence to pursue my fintech career with full gusto.”
Meeri Savolainen, founder and CEO of INZMO
“My background is law and I graduated with an MA in Law from the University of Tartu in Estonia. At the time this was very much the career path I wanted to take and I invested a lot of time in my studies to gain the qualifications to become a lawyer.
“After graduating, I joined the team of corporate lawyers at Ernst & Young. I liked my job, worked with fantastic people and had an excellent experience. However, it was all a bit too safe and I felt I was capable of taking on more risk and more responsibility. I’ve always been driven by innovation and I wanted to create something that hadn’t been created before. I wanted to lead and develop my own team and achieve something bigger.
“Six years ago, my co-founder and I started Bike ID, an international bike registry to counter bike theft. To further monetise our platform, we integrated an app to sell bike insurance. It was from that point we realised the potential of easy-to-use online insurance services. When pitching the solution to potential insurance partners, we got a lot of valuable feedback and interest to sell P&C (property & casualty) products using our app and technology.
“A year later, we pivoted the business to become an online B2B2C insurance agent and renamed the company INZMO.”
Juhie Kapoor, director of global content & communications at Taulia
“I started life studying biology and loved the sciences. At university, I realised that lab work wasn’t for me, so I decided to travel. To raise funds, I worked in a bank and continued working for banks throughout my career. It was a happenstance when I met Taulia and fell in love with their innovation, people, and marketing approach. A few years after this first meeting, a role came up, and I jumped at the chance.
“It was refreshing being in an environment that was agile and youthful. A company where you felt that everything you did contributed. It’s been almost five years, and to be honest, I haven’t looked back!”
Laura Rofe, director of partner development at PPRO
“When you think about it, fintech only really exploded as an industry since the financial crisis. I think if you speak to most people in payments and fintech, most of them will say that they ‘never expected’ to end up in fintech. It is one of those industries that you tend to fall into, but once you are in, you stay for a lifetime.
“My career started by being accepted onto a graduate programme for Australia’s largest bank and it grew from there. When I embarked on my journey to London in 2012, I didn’t expect it to be so difficult to find a role and I had to take a big step back in my career in order to work my way back up.
“But for this, I am grateful, as it allowed me to experience many verticals within the fintech and payments world, from pre-cards to issuing and acquiring local payment methods, as well as international payments, not to mention being able to meet some incredibly knowledgeable and talented people. I did happen to move away from fintech, but this was a short stint as fintech beckoned me to return to my roots.”
Bronwyn Boyle, chief information security officer at Mambu
“I started my career in tech as a software developer, cutting code and developing financial systems in the first wave of banking back in the dot-com era. I really loved coding and enjoyed the development side, but soon realised that cybersecurity was treated in a silo that wasn’t integrated into software development.
“This prompted me to understand more about how to integrate security practices into secure code development. I decided to take a year out to study for an MSc in Security & Forensic Computing, and that is how I started my journey in cybersecurity.
“I’m passionate about how digital payments, e-commerce, and cloud-based banking is transforming banking offerings and helping democratise financial services to underbanked communities. This passion, coupled with my experience working with traditional banks and legacy-type organisations, drew me to the fintech industry.
“With over 20 years experience of working in technology and security in financial services and supporting several organisations, I joined Mambu in 2021 as chief information security officer. In my current role, I oversee the security of Mambu’s banking-as-a-service platform and the wider organisation. I also support security across the broader ecosystem for customers that utilise Mambu to open up financial services, promote innovation and support financial inclusion across the globe.
Meitra Aycock, senior VP of operations, Corpay
“Definitely not! I majored in German Language and Literature in college with a heavy concentration in art history. However, my dad is a retired Chief Information Officer, and I toured data centres from a very early age. I always said I had no intention of pursuing a career in technology, but here I am loving it!”